Kitchen Countertop Ideas

There are many kitchen countertop ideas to consider and options available to the homeowner. From laminates to natural stone and all those in between, it may get a bit confusing trying to determine which direction to go. Budget always plays an important role in your decision and luckily there are numerous price-points depending on the surface you choose. So read about some of the options below to determine which works best for you.

The following kitchen countertop ideas will demonstrate the pros and cons of each and provide some cost medians to help you with your decision. Since natural stone and solid surface options still reign high on consumer wish-lists, we'll start with those.

Please note that costs vary depending on region. The prices shown are typical of the Mid-Eastern U.S.

Countertop Basics

Natural Stone, man-made composite stone and solid surface countertops are the most costly of all the options and are typically pre-cut in a remote location to specifications based on a template of your kitchen's layout and measurements.

The entire process typically entails choosing a material (granite, quartz, solid-surface, etc), browsing color options and making a choice based on cost estimates, setting up an appointment to have a professional take measurements and/or create a template (a down payment may be required) and finally, waiting for your custom-cut counters to arrive and be professionally installed.

Note: Determine what is and is not included in your total installation cost. You may be responsible for plumbing connections and/or modifications to cabinet bases.

Granite Countertops

Granite Countertop Example

Granite countertops are cut from slabs of naturally occurring stone. Typically, slabs are priced via a grading system based on the overall uniqueness and rareness of the stone in color and pattern variance as well as surface finish. Each piece, regardless of grade still has the same overall durability and quality attributes however lower grades may be a bit more porous.

A lower grade granite is still visually stunning once installed so remember to consider some of the more budget-friendly options. A $5.00 less per square foot option could save you hundreds in the end.

  • Pros: Durable. Scratch Resistant. One-of-a-Kind. Cuts from large slabs may equal one-piece installation meaning no seams.

  • Cons: Cost. Porosity (may stain if not sealed). Heat may leave a mark. Heavy items dropped may chip or crack the surface.

  • Cost: Typically $40 - $85 per sq. ft. (installed) based on grade with rarer slabs upward of $100.00. Shop around as offers for granite at $30.00 per sq. ft. (installed) do exist however your color choices will be limited.

Popular granite suppliers include:

Note: Granite prices have dropped significantly in the past few years to become more competitive with man-made, solid surface countertop options. Due to its finish, quality, durability and sheer, natural lustre, it is still worth the money and highly recommended.

Thrifty Granite Options

  • Consider special offers on mass-quantity, stock slabs at reduced prices.

  • Opt to have your counters cut to smaller slab sizes and pieced together.

  • Use engineered granite overlays such as that offered by Granite Transformations.

  • Use granite on a kitchen island only and choose remnant cuts from custom orders at discounted prices. A trip to a granite distributor in your area will be necessary to take advantage of this option.

  • Use granite tile instead of slab granite to save thousands.

Quartz Countertops

Quartz Countertop Example

Quartz countertops, which some classify as natural stone countertops, are actually a composite material made from both quartz and resin. Despite this fact, quartz makes up at least 90% of the finished solid surface giving it extreme durability and glimmering beauty.

Quartz is priced in the same bracket as granite so it's really a matter of preference. Quartz comes in an amazing array of colors which makes it a bit more appealing for those seeking a customized look.

  • Pros: More Durable Than Granite. Typically Scratch Resistant. More Heat Resistant Than Granite. Large Color Selection.

  • Cons: Cost. Resin in countertop may show scratches. Sections may be manufactured at set sizes meaning more seams during installation depending on your countertop's span.

  • Cost: Typically $55 - $75 per sq. ft. (installed) with specialty finishes upward of $100.00.

Popular quartz suppliers include:

Marble Countertops

Marble Countertop Example

Marble countertops boast classic beauty and elegance and bring a certain degree of sophistication to a space more so than either granite or quartz. Despite its luxurious appearance, there are some downfalls when it comes to durability.

Marble, although a natural stone, is softer than both granite and quartz. Knife cutting should be done on cutting boards to protect the surface. Acidic substances such as lemon juice and certain cleaners may dull the finish, so marble counters should be sealed and polished to keep them looking their best.

  • Pros: High-end appearance. Heat Resistant.

  • Cons: Cost. Porosity (may stain or etch if not sealed). Susceptible to knife marks. Limited Color Selection.

  • Cost: Typically $50 - $80 per sq. ft. based on grade but can be upward of $100.00.

For marble price quotes in your area visit
*Check local listings for marble countertop contractors and suppliers in your area.

Thrifty Marble Options

  • Opt to have your counters cut to smaller slab sizes and pieced together.

  • Use marble on a kitchen island only and choose remnant cuts from custom orders at discounted prices.

  • Use marble tile instead of slab marble to save thousands.


Soapstone Countertop and Sink Example

Soapstone countertops may be less known or trendy, but have been around for many years and are gaining popularity in residential homes. Soapstone is a natural stone which has some interesting attributes and characteristics.

It is softer than both granite and marble but scratches are easily sanded and a quick recoating of mineral oil will blend everything together once again. In fact, unlike both granite and marble, soapstone does not need to be sealed. It is impervious to staining. The recommended mineral oil treatment is essentially a top coat to keep the surface looking its best.

Soapstone does have short-comings in color options. It typically develops as a gray-scale stone. Oiling usually deepens this to charcoal or black, and natural darkening will occur even without oiling. Because of this, soapstone has some limitations in its flexibility for design styles. However, it may be the perfect choice for your rustic, contemporary and modern kitchen if you prefer a less commonly used material.

See more examples of soapstone countertops.

  • Pros: High-end appearance. Heat Resistant. Chemical Resistant. Can be DIY cut-to-size due to its softness to save you labor charges.

  • Cons: Cost. Susceptible to knife marks. Limited color palette.

  • Cost: Typically $50 - $70 per sq. ft.

For soapstone vendors throughout the U.S. visit M. Teixeira Soapstone

Thrifty Soapstone Options

Solid Surface Countertops

LG HI-MACS® Solid Surface Composite Countertop Example

Solid surface countertops are man-made composites, typically acrylic, with the high-end appeal of natural stone but the added benefits of extreme durability. Since they are engineered, finishes have been developed that are impervious to staining thus requiring no sealers or maintenance. They are heat resistant and often scratch resistant. A popular and well-known solid surface example is Corian®.

  • Pros: High-end appearance. Heat Resistant. Durable. Seamless installations. Large Color and Pattern Selection.

  • Cons: Cost - (can be comparable to both granite and quartz in price).

  • Cost: Typically $40 - $70 per sq. ft. based on selection/option.

Popular solid surface suppliers include:

Concrete Countertops

Concrete Countertop Example

Concrete countertops are the just plain cool looking and can be incorporated into many design styles. They are an excellent choice for a modern setting or can be color tinted to give them some Old World appeal for a more rustic approach.

Concrete, although visually stunning, does require continued maintenance above and beyond the other natural stone and solid surface options listed. Despite this, it can be easily personalized with subtle textures or inset adornments and is built on-site in custom shapes, sizes and thicknesses. You can use a concrete contractor to do the job or attempt many of the do-it-yourself concrete countertop tutorials online.

See more examples of concrete countertops.

  • Pros: High-end appearance. Heat Resistant. Customizable. DIY Installation.

  • Cons: Cost - (concrete labor charges can make the final cost as high or higher than granite installation). Porosity (may stain if not sealed regularly). Susceptible to knife marks. Messy and labor intensive installation which may span over a week until fully completed.

  • Cost: Typically $50 - $80 per sq. ft. if installed by a contractor. Cut costs in half by installing it yourself.

Butcher Block Countertops

Butcher Block Wood Countertop Example

Butcher block countertops are a great middle-ground, solid countertop option. They can be incorporated into many design styles and naturally offer a warmer look than the sometimes colder appearance of stone options.

Commonly made of maple, they can be reasonably purchased at set sizes. For instance, a 72"x36" at 1 1/2" thick can be purchased for around $200.00 while custom-cut sizes will be a bit more costly. They are a great Do-It-Yourself countertop option as well.

Butcher block does require a bit of maintenance but if care is taken, their natural appeal and beauty can be well retained. They should be regularly conditioned with a food-grade mineral oil. This will help repel moisture absorption, possible odors, bacteria and will assure a deep, rich color and finish. Cutting should ideally be done on cutting boards but if knife marks do occur, they can be sanded out.

  • Pros: Custom Appearance. Reasonable Cost. Can be an eco-option if certified sustainable hardwood or reclaimed wood is used. DIY Installation.

  • Cons Should be conditioned regularly. May harbor odors and/or bacteria if untreated. Heat may leave marks. Susceptible to knife marks.

  • Cost: Typically $25 - $40 per sq. ft. based on wood type, finish and thickness options.

NOTE: Under-mount sinks (seen in all examples above) are
customarily used with solid countertop applications
and provide a more seamless appearance.

Non-Solid Surface Countertop Options

Non-solid surface countertops consists of layers of materials. A popular non-solid surface counter would be laminate countertops which consist of a thin sheet of decorative laminate adhered to a plywood-type base or underlayment.

Laminate Countertops

Wilsonart Laminate Countertop Example

Laminate countertops are a great, economical and durable solution. They can provide a quick makeover for your kitchen and come in an endless array of colors, finishes and textures to meet most any design need you require. They are also a great DIY product to help keep costs down.

Laminate countertops have come a long way with decorative finishes emulating the look of high-end granite and other costly, natural stone options. This budget-friendly solution incorporates man-made materials designed to resist some of the flaws that plague natural stone options. Newer finishes have been engineered to be more durable, withstand scratching, resist heat and remain impervious to staining, bacteria and odors. When on a budget, this is one of the best options.

Laminate Countertop Cost Options

Replace laminate sheeting on outdated or damaged laminate countertops as the cheapest solution. Build your own countertops from particle board and adhere a laminate of your choice. If purchasing new countertops, consider those which are pre-cut, sized, and pre-bonded with manufacturer-select laminate. Your color options will be very limited in this instance however. Finally, consider unfinished, pre-cut and sized countertops and have them covered in the laminate of your choice.

Follow these tips when laminating a countertop.
Special laminate tools will help you achieve the best results.

  • Pros: Economical. Stain Resistant. Heat Resistant. Scratch Resistant (in most cases). DIY Installation. Large color, pattern and finish selection.

  • Cons: The high-end look you seek may be lacking. May warp or come loose if not adhered properly. May chip.

  • Cost: Typically $7 - 15 per sq. ft. based on color/pattern family.

Popular laminate suppliers include:

Tile Countertops

Tile Countertop Example

Tile countertops are another economical option that may provide you a more substantial feel than laminate with the flexibility to customize. Choosing this option also allows for a unified transition between counter and backsplash.

Tiles can be made from ceramic, porcelain, slate, marble, granite, and tumbled stone to name a few. Prices vary greatly. Discontinued tile can cost less than $1.00 per 12"x12" square allowing for a thrifty project. Decorative tile accents can be added to create a one-of-a-kind countertop. Tile departments at home improvement centers offer coordinating edge trims for various in-stock tile to enable a finished look.

Save labor costs by tiling your own countertop. Many online tiling tutorials can offer you guidance.

  • Pros: Economical. Custom appearance. Heat Resistant. DIY Installation.

  • Cons: Grout may stain and should be sealed. Susceptible to knife marks (depending on tile material).

  • Cost: Typically $3 - $12 per sq. ft. based on tile material choice and decorative accents.

For a high-end look consider recycled glass tile. This eco-friendly product, although a bit pricey, will impressive your guests and still costs less than most solid surface installations.

Visit home improvement centers in your area for pricing and special offers.
*Check local listings for tile countertop contractors and suppliers for price quotes.

If having your tiles installed by a contractor, save money by pre-purchasing both the tile and tiling supplies.

For more, unique, kitchen countertop ideas and
green-living options visit green interior design.

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